Comic strip art is a style that had sprung from the pop art movement in the 1960s. Mimicking the classic comic strip associated with newspapers and magazines, artists took this unique form and created a style of art with it.
THE ORIGINS OF COMIC STRIPS
During the 1890s, the first newspaper comic strips appeared in North America. One of the most popular was titled ‘The Yellow Kid’. However, it wasn’t until much later that the ‘Comic Strip’ theme evolved with the combination of imagery and text placed in speech bubbles and boxes.
Comic strips, as we know it, became common features in North American newspapers and magazines from the 1920s, throughout the 20th century and they still remain present in publications today. Much-loved characters began their own story in newspaper comic strips, such as Popeye, Snoopy, Dennis the Menace, TinTin and Peanuts.
It wasn’t until the 1930s that the comic books began to emerge and the superhero genre became a widely popular style of comic. Superman was the first of our superheroes to make an appearance, along with Batman, Captain Marvel, Wonder Woman and Captain America.
POP ART AND COMIC STRIPS
Comic strips have a distinct purpose: to entertain readers. But as comic strips evolved and became a popular medium, artists have begun to incorporate this distinct style into their work.
It was during the Pop Art movement that the Comic Strip Art style grew increasingly popular. In 1963, the famous pop artist, Roy Lichtenstein produced his most recognised paintings, ‘Drowning Girl’ and ‘Whaam!’, which were inspired by the style of Marvel comics.
Lichtenstein’s primary sources for creating these two pieces were directly from comics. ‘Drowning Girl’ was directly influenced by DC Comics’ ‘Secret Hearts No. 83’ while ‘Whaam!’ was transformed into his primary source, a panel from a 1962 issue of DC Comics’ ‘All-American Men of War’. His painting style remained traditional, using bold colours, thick black lines and ben-day dots.
As comic strip art came into its own and moved away from the Pop Art sub-category status, other comic strip artists began to emerge. English artist, Tom Phillips is a painter, printmaker and collagist. He is best known for his ongoing project, ‘A Humument: A Treated Victorian Novel originally by W.H. Mallock’. The story goes that, in 1966, Philips randomly purchased a novel that so happened to be called ‘A Human Document’ by William Hurrell Mallock. From then he began a long project which involved creating art from the pages of the novel. He paints over the pages, leaving some of the text to show through, forming a new narrative from the words written on the page. One of the pages that steamed from it was ‘A Humument Cartoon’ (1970). Using the comic strip style, he painted over the page, leaving some text to show through and creating the comic strip story from the text that remained.
A contemporary of Tom Phillips was Allen Jones, a British Pop artist known for his paintings, sculptures, and lithography. Like Philips, Jones produced some comic strip art, one of which was produced between 1976 and 1977 and is titled Silicone Saves Brenda.
PRESENT-DAY COMIC STRIP ART
Artists today continue to create work using the comic strip art style. French Pop Artist, Phillipe Grimaud takes famous comic characters such as Betty Boop and Superman and places them in a provocative narrative. The illustrations are really quite daring as it maintains its comic strip theme through the use of these popular characters with the graphic, colourful and lively aesthetic. Grimaud’s style
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